how to teach an old horse tackless - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 07-06-2019, 07:04 PM Thread Starter
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how to teach an old horse tackless

hi all,

i loan a 22 yo mare with no experience of any kinda 'neck pressure' but she picks up on things quickly.
ive only loaned her for about 2 years, and never really taught her anything, as she knows everything, shes just insanely rusty (recently started a bit of lateral work- which has triggered some kinda dressage horse ptsd, where will then randomly leg yeild, circle ect) so id love to teach her something really new.

ive already ridden tackless twice- i have to keep the bridle on as shes not mine, but obvs dont touch the reins- the first she took a lot of pressure to turn, but was really good at stopping
then today she was almost too good at turns- and would pretty much do a full 90o every time i pulled the neck rope... but would not stop, no matter how long i waited- had to use the reins or she would keep going.

one thing that i think affected it today is that we had done a bareback hack with a lot of hill work, and i had tied a saddle pad to her neck strap (stirrup leather), its likely thatit was pulling while we were going up the hill, so im going to see if i can borrow a girth type strap so she doesnt get pulled on, while also asking to go forward.

i also continued to use the stirrup leather today (as a neck rope), where as yesterday i had tied a leadrope around her neck...



tl;dr old horse, never been ridden in a neck strap, picks things up fast- first tackless ride had great brakes, bad steering- second had no brakes, great and very sharp steering


sooo yeah, what would you all suggest to teach her- she seems to be getting it in the school, but defo has no respect for the pressure, not that i mind, am pretty happy to do this as a fun thing- but i want to canter her like this too and that takes a little bit of a debate with her

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post #2 of 9 Old 07-06-2019, 08:07 PM
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Hi,

You say you've ridden her tackless twice, but needed 'a lot of pressure'? How did you do that? How did you cue her & how did you teach her what those cues were, before going tackless, so she understood what you wanted?

If you're aspiring to ride her tackless, I'd start with her bridle or halter on, if she is responsive to that(get her responsive if she isn't, before adding a neck rope), and get her softly & reliably responsive with the neck rope first. I'd also start in an enclosed or safer environment, such as an arena, where you don't have to worry about using a lot of pressure to try to force her, for safety reasons. I don't quite understand what or how you did the 'tie a saddle pad to neck strap' but yes, that sounds like a really bad idea. The neck strap should be loose & light, so no pressure at all when not 'in use', just like the reins. Otherwise you'll just desensitise her to pressure on it & make it so much more unclear.

Instead of hauling on her with a lot of pressure, to try to force some response, I'd use the reins if/as needed to back up 'neckrope' cues that *she doesn't understand* to make it *clear*. Just like you do for teaching leg or seat 'aids'. Not only is just trying to force a horse physically less effective, but the whole point of riding tackless, IMO, is about learning/teaching to communicate without it.

You want to set stuff up, to make it as easy as possible for her to get stuff 'right', which includes not asking for too much at a time, not just trying to ask for everything you do with a bridle on, but first getting her good at 'the basics'.

Another vital 'ingredient' is, how are you reinforcing what you're asking? Typically, as the reason people want to ride tackless is so that they're not using force & uncomfortable pressure in order to control/communicate with the horse. Therefore, there's little/no negative reinforcement(removal of 'pressure') to reinforce a behaviour. Therefore you have to use 'real' rewards - positive reinforcement, something desirable - to reinforce what you're asking.
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Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-06-2019, 09:58 PM
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When horses don't do what we are tying to get them to do , it's one of three reasons:


1. they do not understand us and our 'cues'. We just aren't being as clear as we think we are. We aren't releasing at the right time, usually.


2. they can't do it. They are old and stiff, or just stiff from , say, never really doing lateral work.



3. they just don't want to. they have better ideas, such as go home and visit with their buddies, go to the gate and wait to be let in, slow down and mosey, stand until you give up, . . . etc. It is purely that they have learned they can avoid answering any request to a rider that they KNOW lacks the authority to require it.


So, you have to think what's going on in each situation where your horse isn't following 'your plan'. Like the over turning. Could she not have understood that you meant, 'take one step to the right' when you applied that neck pressure, and could that be because you didn't make it clear, by stopping the pressure the minute she took ONE step?


Or, does she 'spin' becuase it made you frustrated, and you soon gave up and the ride was over?


Or, is it painful for her to step laterally?
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post #4 of 9 Old 07-07-2019, 02:24 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by loosie View Post
Hi,

You say you've ridden her tackless twice, but needed 'a lot of pressure'? How did you do that? How did you cue her & how did you teach her what those cues were, before going tackless, so she understood what you wanted?

to be totally honest the first ride was a 'lets hop on and see what happens' situation, shes used to me riding bareback and i try to be as soft on the reins as possible, using my seat and legs more- so when i cued her to turn i would use legs, seat, and the neck strap- she understood turn probably because of my legs and not the strap- but eventually was responding to the strap with light leg aids- as well as the strap on the ground... though only turning.

If you're aspiring to ride her tackless, I'd start with her bridle or halter on, if she is responsive to that(get her responsive if she isn't, before adding a neck rope), and get her softly & reliably responsive with the neck rope first. I'd also start in an enclosed or safer environment, such as an arena, where you don't have to worry about using a lot of pressure to try to force her, for safety reasons. I don't quite understand what or how you did the 'tie a saddle pad to neck strap' but yes, that sounds like a really bad idea. The neck strap should be loose & light, so no pressure at all when not 'in use', just like the reins. Otherwise you'll just desensitise her to pressure on it & make it so much more unclear.

basically i used the velcro you would attach to the girth, to attach to the strap- its pretty common at my stables, and stays loose for most rides- but i think that as we were up so many hills it became tight on her (and then desensetised her, like you said) so im looking into buying a surcingle, or roller that i can use to keep the pad on instead (i just prefer riding with a saddle pad as a) more comfy for me b) saves my clothes from all the hair)

Instead of hauling on her with a lot of pressure, to try to force some response, I'd use the reins if/as needed to back up 'neckrope' cues that *she doesn't understand* to make it *clear*. Just like you do for teaching leg or seat 'aids'. Not only is just trying to force a horse physically less effective, but the whole point of riding tackless, IMO, is about learning/teaching to communicate without it.

yeah, i eventually realised that hauling wasnt helping, and did what you say- glad to hear thats right, especially as i was told to keep upping the pressure untill she stopped- it clearly wasnt working, though she was really good at stopping the first time, and i didnt even have reins

You want to set stuff up, to make it as easy as possible for her to get stuff 'right', which includes not asking for too much at a time, not just trying to ask for everything you do with a bridle on, but first getting her good at 'the basics'.

shes actually suprisingly smart, and is listening really well- the first go was good but very rough, with her deciding to ignore me/ being very slow to respond- where as the second time she was very good- i think shes understanding what im asking, other than stop... im only asking for her to walk and trot around the track, middle lines or diagonal, which is obviously pretty easy- i was thinking of doing some trot poles as she likes them alot, but only once shes well established at turning and stopping, and has some more straightness when im not touching the rope

Another vital 'ingredient' is, how are you reinforcing what you're asking? Typically, as the reason people want to ride tackless is so that they're not using force & uncomfortable pressure in order to control/communicate with the horse. Therefore, there's little/no negative reinforcement(removal of 'pressure') to reinforce a behaviour. Therefore you have to use 'real' rewards - positive reinforcement, something desirable - to reinforce what you're asking.

im not sure about this- i like what you mean, and im praising her alot as soon as she gets it right, but her main 'desire' would just be treats, and her being an overweight and slightly pushy cob, im not sure thats a good idea... id be happy to do some work on the ground with treats though.


Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
When horses don't do what we are tying to get them to do , it's one of three reasons:


1. they do not understand us and our 'cues'. We just aren't being as clear as we think we are. We aren't releasing at the right time, usually.

i know this is an annoying thing to say- but it wasnt even a case of releasing at the right time, there was litterally no response, not even a slight slow down when i asked to stop... im going to do somemore work on the ground, before my next ride to remind her, and hopefully that will clear it up a bit...

may i ask- what is the right time for a stop? some times she starts to stop and i release pressure, only for her to then speed up again- do you wait for a slow? or untill they are stationary?


2. they can't do it. They are old and stiff, or just stiff from , say, never really doing lateral work.

shes not stiff, the lateral work is pretty easy for her, its more a case of confusion/desensetisation- and also im only asking her to walk and trot, with some turns across the school- she can do it, we do alot more with a bridle.



3. they just don't want to. they have better ideas, such as go home and visit with their buddies, go to the gate and wait to be let in, slow down and mosey, stand until you give up, . . . etc. It is purely that they have learned they can avoid answering any request to a rider that they KNOW lacks the authority to require it.

sounds like her- but we have come along way and i havnt lost an arguement in months- she defo trusts and respects me, but probably is testing the waters as its a new style of riding- she did the exact same thing when i started riding bareback, so ill have to prove her wrong :)

So, you have to think what's going on in each situation where your horse isn't following 'your plan'. Like the over turning. Could she not have understood that you meant, 'take one step to the right' when you applied that neck pressure, and could that be because you didn't make it clear, by stopping the pressure the minute she took ONE step?

possibly, i keep the pressure on untill she is how i want her to be, which was often 90o in the second lesson... so maybe she began to associate the release of pressure with turning that amount... ill try maybe doing a snake pattern, but ive not tried that with reins before (she could easily do it, just hasnt been a reason to) or maybe just some circles.


Or, does she 'spin' becuase it made you frustrated, and you soon gave up and the ride was over
lol i dont get frustrated at her- she used to be such a pain in the *** to ride that nothing really phases me anymore, i just correct her and laugh about it- the only times when i get genuinly frustrated is when she decides to do something dangerous, which just earns her a telling off, and she doesnt normally try a second time...
things like this- they seem to be more of a confusion, rather than anything malicious (ik horses dont feel mallice and all that but i dont know a better term- like when she does something bad AND she should know better) so i dont really react, i try to keep asking- but it got to the point where i thought she was barely even noticing the rope so i decided to work on turning at trot instead... probably not the best thing to do , but i eventually started cueing stop with the neck rope- then reins when she didnt respond, and she would stop instantly... so i really think its just confusion



Or, is it painful for her to step laterally?

i dont think thats related though... i just wanted her to turn normally, not anything fancy, she never span either- idk if i wrote that...

any latteral work i did with a bridle, as she is very rusty- but it triggers some kind of dressage flash back as she then starts doing all kinds of fancy stuff with out me really knowing how im cueing for it.


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post #5 of 9 Old 07-07-2019, 02:30 PM Thread Starter
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@tinyliny oh i see what you mean about spinning- to clarify, she be very sharp at turning, but not to the point of spinning (90 degrees was furthest she turned, as i didnt have much of a reason to ask for more of a turn)
when i say she would not stop, i dont mean wouldnt stop turning- i mean she hade no brakes and would keep walking/trotting no matter what i tried- other than use the reins...


sorry for not seeing my mistake untill now

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post #6 of 9 Old 07-07-2019, 02:59 PM
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In the case of getting a more responsive horse, I would start by rewarding with a release of the pressure when the horse offers the slightest try. So, you pull back on the neck rope, the horse slows, you give a 'thank you' release. If she starts going forward again, you just repeat your slow down 'ask'.


If she isn't getting any more sensitive to your ask/cue, then I would stay in there, 'asking' (in this case, pulling backward on the neck rope) a bit longer, until you see some change in her overall thinking.


What that means is that she flicks her ears back, and hesitates, and even sort of gathers her body ready to back up. When the horse indicates that they are THINKING backward toward you, you give them some release. If they slow a bit, but their ears are still pricked hard forward, and they are slowing but are still just leaning hard against the neck rope, I would not release . Not until I felt some kind of CHANGE. That is what you are after; a change. That is what training is about; getting a change. If you release before you have a change, you are training the horse to NOT change, to persist in resistance.


But, you start with the smallest try, and if the horse doesn't offer a real change, you stay in there until you get that change . . . but that does NOT mean you stay until there is a solid stop. Not at first. you stay until you feel the horse really offer something different. that is step one.
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post #7 of 9 Old 07-07-2019, 03:25 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinyliny View Post
In the case of getting a more responsive horse, I would start by rewarding with a release of the pressure when the horse offers the slightest try. So, you pull back on the neck rope, the horse slows, you give a 'thank you' release. If she starts going forward again, you just repeat your slow down 'ask'.


If she isn't getting any more sensitive to your ask/cue, then I would stay in there, 'asking' (in this case, pulling backward on the neck rope) a bit longer, until you see some change in her overall thinking.


What that means is that she flicks her ears back, and hesitates, and even sort of gathers her body ready to back up. When the horse indicates that they are THINKING backward toward you, you give them some release. If they slow a bit, but their ears are still pricked hard forward, and they are slowing but are still just leaning hard against the neck rope, I would not release . Not until I felt some kind of CHANGE. That is what you are after; a change. That is what training is about; getting a change. If you release before you have a change, you are training the horse to NOT change, to persist in resistance.


But, you start with the smallest try, and if the horse doesn't offer a real change, you stay in there until you get that change . . . but that does NOT mean you stay until there is a solid stop. Not at first. you stay until you feel the horse really offer something different. that is step one.
thankyou, that makes alot of sense- to be totally honest im not sure if im quite in tune enough to notice small changes- so i will probably start with some groundwork, that way i can actually see her and match her pace- so ill be able to reward her for the smaller changes- luckily shes smart and forgiving, so hopefully it wont be too bad if i miss anything, shes also very quick to pick things up

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post #8 of 9 Old 07-07-2019, 06:46 PM
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Quote:
basically i used the velcro you would attach to the girth, to attach to the strap- its pretty common at my stables, and stays loose for most rides- but i think that as we were up so many hills it became tight on her (and then desensetised her, like you said) so im looking into buying a surcingle, or roller that i can use to keep the pad on instead (i just prefer riding with a saddle pad as a) more comfy for me b) saves my clothes from all the hair)
I don't know I understand what you're meaning here - are you meaning that you're riding on a saddle pad without it being girthed?? You're somehow strapping the saddle pad to a neck strap instead to secure it? That sounds very unsaf & unstable. So yes, get a surcingle, or ride bareback. And if you're wanting to use a neck strap for communication, it should not be strapped to the saddle pad or anything else.

Quote:
im not sure about this- i like what you mean, and im praising her alot as soon as she gets it right, but her main 'desire' would just be treats, and her being an overweight and slightly pushy cob, im not sure thats a good idea... id be happy to do some work on the ground with treats though.
You do need to reward with something meaningful to her, as praise(a noise) is not a reward, just a cue. You do not have to use food - anything she truly desires, such as a scratch under the mane or some such. But you don't need to use sugary or unhealthy food, & you don't need to give much, so just because she's fat doesn't mean you can't use 'treats'. A pinch of lucerne chaff or 'low cal' pellets, a couple of rosehips, a small square of carrot... then a pocketful will last a whole session.

Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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post #9 of 9 Old 07-07-2019, 07:28 PM
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Quote:
i know this is an annoying thing to say- but it wasnt even a case of releasing at the right time, there was litterally no response, not even a slight slow down when i asked to stop... im going to do somemore work on the ground, before my next ride to remind her, and hopefully that will clear it up a bit...

may i ask- what is the right time for a stop? some times she starts to stop and i release pressure, only for her to then speed up again- do you wait for a slow? or untill they are stationary?
Respectfully, no, you aren't 'annoying' by asking the above, but it does make me think you(& she) need more than internet forum comments - would really benefit from some hands on lessons in basic training, to get solid on that, before you try to 'up the ante' trying to teach her tackless. You need to understand training principles yourself & be good at putting the basics into practice, before you try to teach it, I think.

If you're not getting any kind of response, you're being ineffective and the horse has no clue(or doesn't care/knows she doesn't have to) what is wanted. In this case, I'd start by using the reins at the same time as the neck rope & your seat. Eventually you should be able to 'faze out' the reins, then the neckrope. But if you try to do without too soon & the horse learns she doesn't have to 'listen' to the neck or seat cues, then you've only taught her not to listen to them. So make sure you can be clear & effective.

Not sure if I get 'right time to stop' question, but I think you're asking when to release pressure/quit 'asking' something? Horses learn from *instant* reinforcement, so the instant she *thinks* about stopping to start with. Only after she is soft & reliable about stopping at all, do you 'build' on that, by asking her to stop for xx period of time or whatever.

Quote:
sounds like her- but we have come along way and i havnt lost an arguement in months- she defo trusts and respects me, but probably is testing the waters as its a new style of riding- she did the exact same thing when i started riding bareback, so ill have to prove her wrong :)
Horses learn to do what works & quit doing what doesn't work. If you're absolutely positive she understand exactly what you want - eg. others can do these things with her - then she's not doing what you want, because there's no good reason for her to do so. While 'arguing' by way of force is the normal way to get a horse to do something for someone, I think there are better ways, and I would strive NOT to 'argue' but find ways to get her to WANT to do as you ask. Ensure it always works for her to do as you ask, so that you can both be Right, she doesn't have to be 'proven Wrong'.

Quote:
possibly, i keep the pressure on untill she is how i want her to be, which was often 90o in the second lesson... so maybe she began to associate the release of pressure with turning that amount... ill try maybe doing a snake pattern, but ive not tried that with reins before (she could easily do it, just hasnt been a reason to) or maybe just some circles.
I think it sounds like you're expecting your end goal too soon... expecting a high school answer from someone who's in kindergarten. Reinforce those kindergarten answers & get them good first, before working on 'grade school' stuff... So I wouldn't worry about neckreining until she's good at doing stuff with reins, wouldn't worry about patterns, be they snake, circle, whatever, until you can get the basics, the first steps. Don't trot either, until you've got stuff down pat at a walk too.

Quote:
things like this- they seem to be more of a confusion, rather than anything malicious (ik horses dont feel mallice and all that but i dont know a better term- like when she does something bad AND she should know better)
Great you appreciate horses aren't malicious. If a horse understands exactly what is wanted(lets assume) and they don't do it, or they do something opposite('bad'), then either something is hurting them or frustrating or frightening them, to do what is asked, or they have no good reason to do it, or a good reason to do the opposite. So looking at the motivation behind responses is important to understand too.

Some info I've found helpful; [COLOR=Lime][B]www.horseforum.com/horse-health/hoof-lameness-info-horse-owners-89836/
For taking critique pics; [COLOR=Lime][B]https://www.horseforum.com/members/41...res-128437.jpg
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